Seasonal allergies, also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a series of allergy symptoms occurring during certain seasons of the year. The season is usually either summer or winter, where the conditions change such as outdoor mold from spores or trees, weeds releases pollen particles into the air, or conditions of the winter season which also commonly causes seasonal allergies.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies are essentially caused by tiny particles, also called allergens. These particles invade your body and home and release chemicals, including histamine, into your blood stream. The release of the chemicals is what causes allergy symptoms you experience during certain seasons. The types of allergies you experience depend on the person, as you can be allergic to more than one type of mold or pollen. Your location may also determine what type of seasonal allergies are more likely. The symptoms of seasonal allergies tend to peak in late teens and early adulthood, but subside later in life.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Many people believe seasonal allergies to be a cold or other illness happening at the same time each year. However this could actually be seasonal allergies. Common signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies include an itchy nose or throat, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and persistent coughing. You may also experience eyes that are itchy, red or watery, also called allergic conjunctivitis. If wheezing or shortness of breath are experienced, the seasonal allergies have developed into asthma.
Diagnosing Seasonal Allergies
Diagnosing seasonal allergies is typically easy to do as the patterns of the symptoms will keep returning at the same time every year. However the first year it is usually thought to be a cold without a visit to the doctor. The best way to officially diagnose seasonal allergies is with an allergy skin test. This is done to determine what is causing the allergy symptoms. There are two main ways to perform an allergy skin test; by dropping purified liquid of an allergen onto the skin and pricking it to find out if there is a reaction, or injecting a very small amount of the allergen under the skin. If there is a lump that forms about 15 minutes later, the test is positive.
Treating Seasonal Allergies
There isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies, but it can be treated every year when the season starts to relieve some of the symptoms. The best course of treatment involves avoiding or reducing exposure to allergens, such as keeping your windows closed and using air conditioning when you can. Frequent hand washing is also important for children who spend a lot of time playing outdoors. Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal spray steroids are all available for treating seasonal allergy symptoms.